You want to raise your wee ones to be good kids—and eventually good adults. Ones who care. Ones who don’t take things for granted. And ones who appreciate both the value and dignity of hard work in a world of instant gratification.
It all begins by setting a good example yourself. Put down that electronic gadget. Demonstrate persistence and pride in effort over accomplishment. Be a good role model.
Beyond that, here are a few more creative ways to help teach kids the value of hard work
All kids love a good story. But one that shows how someone (or something) overcomes their obstacles and succeeds actually teaches a lesson—and may resonate even a bit deeper. It gives kids a chance to relate to a character and see how real-life values work. Choose books that highlight determination, perseverance, and hard work at a reading/comprehension level appropriate for your child. Some suggestions include:
- Little One Step by Simon James
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
- Flight School by Lita Judge
- Anything is Possible by Giulia Belloni
- Sir Malcolm and the Missing Prince by Sidney Baldwin
- Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull
Conversations that share your own personal struggles and triumphs are sure to capture your child’s attention and spark their interest. Tell them about something you did in the past that seemed difficult at first but you eventually accomplished. Or about a mistake you made that you fixed. Or even about a challenge you faced today, big or small, but managed to overcome instead of giving up. Make it a two-way conversation by asking them about ways they work hard at something, too.
It’s almost never too soon to have your little humans learn that being part of a family means sharing the workload. They can certainly start young, but be realistic about what they can handle. Suggestions for age-appropriate chores range from having your two-year-old put their toys away and your five-year-old clear the table, to having your seven-year-old rake the leaves and your nine-year-old put away the groceries. A chore chart is a great way to make expectations known and allow your kids to take ownership.
It’s so easy for kids to think that money grows on trees or things get done all by themselves. Instead, have your kids follow you for an entire day, from morning to night, to showcase the importance of working hard to achieve your goals. They will literally be your shadow. This may, for instance, involve bringing them to work with you (click here for the next National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day) or having them accompany you during your chores and errands. Whatever it may be, let them help when they can. The whole purpose is to open their eyes to all that you do to support them.
Eliminate the gimme gimmes by giving your kids a chance to earn their own money. This teaches them
the importance of planning, salesmanship, money handling—and above all, hard work. Lend a hand when needed. Depending on age, some ideas include a lemonade stand, hot cocoa stand, art gallery, dog walking, car washing, grass cutting, snow shoveling, and can recycling.
It’s equally important to teach kids that money isn’t the only incentive for hard work. Show them that they can also donate their time and efforts to helping others in need. Instill philanthropy in your children by choosing a volunteer project they can easily participate in and contribute to. Together, you can—and will—make a difference!